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Signups brisk for annual Deseret News road races

It's four weekends and counting before this year's 30th annual Deseret News/Granite Furniture marathon and 16th annual 10K races are held on July 24 in Salt Lake City, and registrations are heating up.

With thousands of dollars on the line for winners in men's, women's, masters and wheelchair divisions, signups are brisk for the Pioneer Day events that finish at Liberty Park."We've had a very good response online at our Web site," reported race director Scott Kerr of the Salt Lake County Parks and Recreation Department, which is coordinating the races for the fourth straight year. "Our races this year fall on a Saturday, which means even more interest from runners outside of Utah."

Winners in the men's and women's 10Ks will each take home $2,500, with second place finishes worth $1,500, third place worth $500, fourth $400 and fifth $250. Wheelchair winners will each pocket $250, and master division winners will take home $250, second place finishers $125 and third place finishers $75 each. In the marathon, first place is worth $1,000, second place $500 and third place $250, with wheelchair division and master division winners earning $250. Second in masters is worth $125 and third place worth $75. In addition, the man or woman setting a new course record in the marathon will earn a special bonus as well.

These races aren't just about winning, however. Each summer, thousands of amateur runners join some of the nation's top professional road racers to take on the challenging DesNews courses.

"I think getting the holiday started in the wee hours of the morning has become a tradition for many of us," stated Steve Handy, executive race director who has spent the past several years helping with a committee of volunteers who sleep very little the evening of July 23 and whose Pioneer Days usually start at 2 a.m.

As always, this year's races will benefit charities, as the Marine Corps Reserves Toys for Tots program in Utah will receive proceeds from the races. In addition to the road races, the third annual 5K Non-Competitive Walk for fitness will begin at 6:30 a.m. at the Delta Center, finishing along with the races at Liberty Park.

In addition to registering online, runners may get registration forms at all Granite Furniture stores, at Salt Lake County Parks and Recreation and at the Deseret News.